Those holding Stemmer Imaging (ETR:S9I) shares must be pleased that the share price has rebounded 33% in the last thirty days. But unfortunately, the stock is still down by 7.1% over a quarter. But shareholders may not all be feeling jubilant, since the share price is still down 39% in the last year.
Assuming no other changes, a sharply higher share price makes a stock less attractive to potential buyers. While the market sentiment towards a stock is very changeable, in the long run, the share price will tend to move in the same direction as earnings per share. So some would prefer to hold off buying when there is a lot of optimism towards a stock. One way to gauge market expectations of a stock is to look at its Price to Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). A high P/E ratio means that investors have a high expectation about future growth, while a low P/E ratio means they have low expectations about future growth.
How Does Stemmer Imaging's P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?
We can tell from its P/E ratio of 42.87 that there is some investor optimism about Stemmer Imaging. The image below shows that Stemmer Imaging has a higher P/E than the average (17.7) P/E for companies in the electronic industry.
That means that the market expects Stemmer Imaging will outperform other companies in its industry. Shareholders are clearly optimistic, but the future is always uncertain. So investors should delve deeper. I like to check if company insiders have been buying or selling.
How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios
Probably the most important factor in determining what P/E a company trades on is the earnings growth. That's because companies that grow earnings per share quickly will rapidly increase the 'E' in the equation. That means even if the current P/E is high, it will reduce over time if the share price stays flat. And as that P/E ratio drops, the company will look cheap, unless its share price increases.
Stemmer Imaging saw earnings per share decrease by 21% last year.
Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits
One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. So it won't reflect the advantage of cash, or disadvantage of debt. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).
Such expenditure might be good or bad, in the long term, but the point here is that the balance sheet is not reflected by this ratio.
So What Does Stemmer Imaging's Balance Sheet Tell Us?
Stemmer Imaging has net cash of €46m. This is fairly high at 25% of its market capitalization. That might mean balance sheet strength is important to the business, but should also help push the P/E a bit higher than it would otherwise be.
The Verdict On Stemmer Imaging's P/E Ratio
Stemmer Imaging trades on a P/E ratio of 42.9, which is above its market average of 19.6. Falling earnings per share is probably keeping traditional value investors away, but the net cash position means the company has time to improve: and the high P/E suggests the market thinks it will. What we know for sure is that investors have become much more excited about Stemmer Imaging recently, since they have pushed its P/E ratio from 32.3 to 42.9 over the last month. If you like to buy stocks that have recently impressed the market, then this one might be a candidate; but if you prefer to invest when there is 'blood in the streets', then you may feel the opportunity has passed.
Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, 'In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine. So this free visual report on analyst forecasts could hold the key to an excellent investment decision.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
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